‘We have an all-white board, and that’s not acceptable’: New chairman Ian Watmore targets radical shake-up of ECB as English professional game had just NINE black cricketers last year
- Ian Watmore, 62, began his reign as the chairman of the ECB on Tuesday
- Retirement of deputy chair of Lord Kamlesh Patel leaves all-white board
- Watmore says ECB board cannot lead game effectively without more diversity
Ian Watmore, the new head of English cricket, has criticised the ECB board for being ‘all white’ – and says the 12-strong committee cannot lead the game effectively without more diversity.
Watmore began his reign as ECB chairman on Tuesday after replacing Colin Graves, but the retirement as deputy chair of Lord Kamlesh Patel leaves him with an immediate challenge in a year when the Black Lives Matter movement has shone a light on the racial make-up of boardrooms across all walks of life.
‘It’s quite clear that we do not have the diversity of board that we need,’ said Watmore, 62, a former senior civil servant and chief executive of the Football Association.
Ian Watmore says the ECB board cannot lead the game effectively without more diversity
‘With Kamlesh stepping down, we revert to being an all-white board, and that’s not acceptable in the long run. I very much want to have a diverse, inclusive board at the top of English cricket, but also right through English cricket.
‘Because if a sport’s governing body is not representative of the society it’s trying to serve, then it isn’t going to be an effective leader.’
Watmore’s admission follow remarks made by ECB chief executive Tom Harrison in July, when he said the BLM movement had forced cricket to face some ‘uncomfortable truths’.
These included the fact that, in 2019, the English professional game included only nine black cricketers – down from 33 in 1995 – and two black support staff.
And while the ECB have worked hard over the last couple of years to implement their South Asian Action Plan, Vikram Solanki recently became the first British-Asian to be made head coach of a county side when he took charge at Surrey.
Vikram Solanki became the first British-Asian to be made head coach of a county at Surrey
With the spare space on the board due to be filled in early November, four of the 11 voting incumbents are women – although one, Delia Bushell, has come under pressure after resigning as chief executive of the Jockey Club following an independent inquiry into allegations of bullying, racist remarks and sharing offensive material.
Meanwhile, Watmore has warned that ‘painful’ financial decisions will have to be made as the ECB comes to terms with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, reiterating that the board would lose at least £100m, despite staging behind-closed-doors series against West Indies, Ireland, Pakistan and Australia
‘It’s inevitable we are going to have to reduce expenditure on the ECB itself,’ he said.
‘That will be painful in places and painful to people. I regret we have to do that but it is something we do have to do.’ Writing on the ECB website, he referred to a ‘financial day of reckoning’.
But the new chairman did reassure the 18 first-class counties that they would all have a role to play in all competitions, after Graves had suggested some may have to forgo first-class status in the years ahead because of financial constraints.
Watmore also backed the controversial Hundred tournament, which would have been launched this summer but for the pandemic, and said he hoped it could be played in front of crowds in 2021.